I am deeply proud of our new church. You can find our Facebook Page here. Below is an overview of what took place over the first several months of 2019. Thank you to the many church members who helped me write and edit this piece!
On Sunday, February 3, 2019, the congregations of both the former Sterling and Standish United Methodist Churches met at Community United Methodist Church, now Beacon of Light UMC, in Standish to vote on merging to become one church. In making this decision, members hope to become stronger together and strengthen the already thriving ministries of both churches, as well as create new opportunities throughout both communities. A similar merger took place locally between the former St. Florian and St. John Catholic Parishes during the 1980s, which formed the current Resurrection of the Lord Catholic Parish.
Presently, Beacon of Light UMC is in the process of reevaluating the needs of active ministries and the community at large. While the new Beacon of Light congregation voted to hold weekly worship services at the former Community United Methodist Church building due to its size, no permanent decision has yet been made as to the fate of the former church and parsonage in Sterling. In creating the new church, several items from the former Sterling UMC were installed at the Standish building, including pews, artwork, and other furnishings, thanks to the hard work and dedication of several church members.
Many in both the Standish and Sterling communities may not realize the impact the ministries of the new Beacon of Light UMC have had on the local community. The traditions of both churches will be represented in the new church. For example, the monthly food giveaway initially organized at the Sterling location will continue at Beacon of Light. The Standish location, site of the new church, currently serves as a meeting location for the CAN Council, Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and a local Boy Scout troop, among others. It also serves as the home of Kids’ Klothesline, which provides gently used clothing of all sizes for those in need. On Mondays, a diaper pantry is available as well. In addition, the quilting group that has met weekly at the Standish church over the last 18 years will still meet weekly and donate their work to the Arenac County Baby Pantry.
In recent years, both the community “Thanks”-Giving dinner and the women’s Christmas Tea have become anticipated annual events. In addition, for the past six years church members have provided Christmas gifts for as many as 53 foster children in Arenac County as part of the Heavenly Host program. The efforts of a combined congregation may expand the scope of these three ministries even further.
While both churches hope to preserve many of their traditions as Beacon of Light moves into the future, the new church looks forward to growth, as well. For example, several of the men have proposed creating a men’s group to complement the active United Methodist Women’s group. Thanks to a newly formed education group, both Sunday school and youth programs will be reorganized and strengthened this fall. This year, church members participated in the annual Loyalty Day Parade in Standish after several years of holding Spring Spree at the church on Loyalty Day. Beacon of Light members invite the community to join us in worship and welcome all to participate in upcoming events. Be part of the growing community of outreach as Sterling and Standish United Methodist Churches become one! Praise be to God.